The University of Florida traces its roots back to 1853, the year when the East Florida
Seminary became a state school of higher learning. In January of 1851, the Florida
Legislature passed a bill authorizing establishment of two seminaries, one in north
Florida (later to become Florida State University) and the other in west Florida, with
the purpose of instructing "persons both male and female (in) the art of teaching" and
all those other "arts which ennoble man and make him truly independent."
In January 1866, the East Florida Seminary moved to Gainesville as the result of
legislative action. Gainesville was the trade center of a rich agricultural area and
was on the route of the railroad running from Fernandina to Cedar Key. The Seminary
operated as a military school for its male students. They wore uniforms, slept in barracks,
ate in the mess hall, marched in formation to and from class and were awakened each morning
by a bugle call.
Needless to say, student activities and social expectations were very strict in the
beginning. Students were forbidden to use malt liquors of any kind or to visit any place
where they were sold. Students were also banned from playing billiards, reading books or
papers unless approved by proper authority, using vulgar language, using tobacco in any
form, hazing, gambling or using any form of cards or dice. Violation of these restrictions
could result in expulsion.
The University of Florida did not receive its current name until 1905 when the Legislature
voted for a change. While the change of name did not affect the educational status of the
institution, it was regarded as a step toward creating a state university.
The University of Florida's school colors are descendants from two of the schools that
were brought together to form the University. Gator orange comes form the orange and black
of the East Florida Seminary; Gator blue from the blue and white of Florida Agricultural
"The welfare of the state rests on the character of its citizen." This is the motto of
the University of Florida. Providing for the welfare of the state's citizens through
education has been the University of Florida's primary objective. From its humble
beginnings in 1853 to the impressive institution it is today, the University's faculty,
staff and administrators have given of their hearts and minds to build a university that
would not only serve the state, but also the nation and the world.
Writing to President Andrew Sledd when the University was being dedicated in 1906,
Gainesville Mayor Thomas predicted: "Your stay with us will be both long and pleasant,"
and he wished Sledd success "in building up here a great University." If a "great
University" was only a dream in 1906, all would agree that the dream has been realized today.
The university and its students have come a long way and evolved with the changing
environment around them. Today, the University of Florida is a world-renowned
institution of higher education.